Preparing Floors for Floor Graphics

Preparing Floors for Floor Graphics

With floor graphics representing a $2 billion industry, can you really afford not to get involved? The answer for most of you is “no.” But that doesn’t mean you should go in with your eyes halfway open.

Yes, your vehicle wrapping and vinyl installation skills with other substrates will come in handy with floor graphics. However, there’s a new thing or two you need to learn in order to make money with floor graphics.

If the edges of the graphics begin to peel up before the recommended lifespan of the product (which is typically not more than six months) then you’ll have to do the job over again. Why would the edges lift up? One reason is because the floor wasn’t properly prepared before you applied the graphic.

The moral of the story is you can spend a few extra minutes preparing now, or you can spend a lot more time redoing the job later. That’s really no choice at all. So read on to learn how to place the graphic, how to prep the surface, how to install the graphic, and how to laminate it for longevity.

Where to place the graphic

Before you set out to install a floor graphic, you need to be sure the vinyl will stick to the flooring material. Generally, floor graphics can be applied to waxed vinyl, sealed concrete, marble, ceramic tile, sealed wood and Terrazo, according to 3M.

But that’s not the only condition. The floor surface must be secure and in good condition. 3M suggests avoiding the temptation to install floor graphics over loose or uneven tile. The floor surface to which the graphic is applied should also be well secured, and free from cracks and chips, and missing and/or loose grout. The floor surface should also be free of silicone, as the presence of silicone will inhibit anchorage of the graphic to the floor surface.

Does that sound like a lot of shoulds? You’ll be glad you followed these suggestions in the end. Let’s add a few more dos and don’ts for good measure.

You’ll also want to be sure the floor finish is well bonded to the floor surface. That’s because floor finishes that aren’t well bonded may separate or release and result in the graphic lifting prematurely. What’s more, 3M suggests, the floor finish may come off with the graphic when the graphic is removed and demand the reapplication of the floor finish.

Preparing Floors for Floor Graphics

Complying with manufacturer recommendations

But wait! There are yet more requirements for graphic placement. For safety, and to maintain the integrity of the graphic, it is important to place the graphic in a moderate traffic area, away from main doorways, according to Avery Graphics.

It’s also important to note that the floor graphic will become slippery when wet. So it’s best to advise your client not to choose an installation location that where rain or snow is likely to find its way onto the graphic. If you are installing floor graphics in a warehouse setting then keep in mind that forklifts and tow motors can compromise the integrity of the graphic by spilling oil and tracking grime over the image.

Speaking from experience, Troy Downey owner APE Wraps, a digital graphics and wraps company in San Diego, Calif. says you have to ask yourself one more important question: What is your foot traffic volume and how long do you need the graphic to last?

“If we install floor graphics in a stadium, are they going to last and remain vibrant and look great with no curled up edges?” Downey asks. “That all depends on how many thousands of people are going to walk over it during that period of time. That is the down side. The upside is there are a lot of floors and a lot of surfaces to advertise on.”


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